March 11, 2010

An unknown ancient temple near Mysore - Mahabaleshwar Temple, Chamundi Hills, Near Mysore, India

Mysore Palace and Mysore Zoo are not the only popular destinations of Mysore, the heritage city of India. Chamundi hills, which is located at a distance of around 13 kms from Mysore city is also a popular destination. The highlights of Chamundi hills might be the huge Nandi (bull) idol, Chamundeshwari temple and the large statue of Mahisasura. However, there is also another destination in Chamundi hills, which most of the people are not aware of, and easily miss out to visit. That beautiful destination is Mahabaleshwar temple.

The ancient Mahabaleshwar temple is located right next to the famous Chamundeshwari temple. This temple is much older than Chamundeshwari temple. In fact, this is the original temple of Chamundi hills. However, it is unfortunate to find that not even 1% of crowd that visit Chamundeshwari temple visit Mahabaleshwar temple. In one way, it is good to find not much crowd in this temple; we can calmly enjoy the beauty of this temple.

Mahabaleshwar temple was built in the 8th century CE by the Ganga kings. Later the temple was renovated by the Hoysala kings. The bronze idols that are found in this temple are believed to be of Chola period. Thus, this temple of Mahabaleshwar in Chamundi hills was popular in Ganga, Chola, and Hoysala period. Only during the period of Wodayar king, Chamundeshwari temple got importance and this temple got unnoticed.

Mahabaleshwar temple is architecturally beautiful. One can feel the blend of Hoysala and Ganga architecture in this temple. The main deity of the temple is Mahabaleshwar, which is in the form of Shiv linga. It is a Mukha Linga, the face of Shiva is embedded on Linga. There is Parvati’s idol found on the left side of Shiv Linga in the sanctum.

 Nandi is found as usual facing towards the sanctum.

There are idols of Sapta Matas, Ganesha, another Ganesha and Nataraj along with Sivakami. It is rare to find the stone idol of Nataraj, which is found here. In addition to that, there is a separate shrine for Nataraj along with Sivakami.

Dakshinamurti and Lingodbhava are found as the niche images. Chandikeshwara is found in his usual location. There are 4-5 sub-shrines in the prakara for Shiv Linga in different names.

When you visit Chamundi hills near Mysore, don’t miss this beautiful ancient temple. Mysore tourism remains incomplete without a visit to this temple.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Mahabaleshwar Temple
Site Type: Temple on hills
Location: Chamundi hills, 13 kms from Mysore, Karnataka state, India
Highlight: An ancient temple of Lord Shiva
Nearest Railway Station: Mysore
Nearest Airport: Bangalore
Climate: Warm and cool throughout the year
Local Transport: Well connected by buses, and private taxis
Hotel: You need to depend on Mysore hotels (Mysore - the nearest city)
Restaurants: Mysore's cuisine is rice-based; Idlis and dosas are also famous; You can find a lot of restaurants both vegetarian and non-vegetarian throughout the city

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